The Phillies and Braves get together for the second time in
two weeks, and SBR follows the series in
Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Kris Medlen put the Atlanta Braves in position for their sixth consecutive series win with a 3-1 performance over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. Now it's up to Brandon Beachy to complete the task and help the Braves head into Thursday's off day on a winning note.
Beachy and the Braves are expected to close the series against the Phils with a dubya according to the MLB odds. Atlanta backers will have to fork over $2.30 for the privilege, a steep price since Beachy has never beaten Philadelphia. John Lannan is up next in the Phils' rotation with an 8 run total available for scoreboard bettors.
Lannan is coming off an ugly outing last Friday in Washington where he walked five, served up two homers and allowed eight runs in his five frames. It was his first start in front of his former fans in DC since leaving the Nats and joining the Phils this past winter, but Lannan has been pretty sorry in most of his road games of 2013. Philadelphia is 2-4 in his six away outings with the lefty posting a 7.53 ERA.
The Braves chased him from the mound in the fifth 10 days ago in Philly, a no-decision for Lannan who was charged with four runs (2 earned) in 4.1 IP. That went against the grain after enjoying success vs. the Braves during his career with the Nats (9-5, 3.20).
Beachy also earned a no-decision in that same Aug. 3 start against Lannan and the Phils, an eventual 5-4 Braves victory. In just his second start off the DL, he worked into the seventh and allowed three earned runs. Beachy followed that up with a strong outing last Friday vs. the Marlins to get the dubya, something he's never recorded against the Phillies. In fact, Atlanta's win in his start vs. them 10 days ago was the first time the Braves beat the Phils with Beachy on the hill. His seven previous assignments in the series all ended in an ATL defeat while he posted a 3.68 ERA.
There is a slight chance of rain in the Atlanta area, but nothing that should stop tonight's contest. Muggy and the high-70s are forecast for the start of the game, with barely a hint of a NNE breeze (in from left-center). Crew chief Gary Darling (11-14-1 O/U/P) will call the balls and strikes, and both of his previous plate assignments at Turner Field this season stayed below the total.
Beachy's history vs. Philadelphia would scare me off a -150 moneyline, much less one at -230. But I also have no faith in Lannan at this time. That leaves me thinking OVER for my free sports pick today.
My pick: Phillies-Braves Over 8 (-105) at Bet365
Check out our Wednesday Morning MLB Odds & Betting Lines Report.
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Maybe there is some life in the Philadelphia Phillies after all. Then again, Monday's 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves might have to be simply chalked up to Cole Hamels bringing his A-game while the Braves were caught looking ahead.
Atlanta will turn to Kris Medlen to even the set on Tuesday when the MLB odds are squarely in the home team's favor. Backing Medlen and the Braves will cost bettors a whopping $2.40, a steep price to pay considering Atlanta is just 12-11 with the righthander on the bump. Philadelphia counters with rookie Ethan Martin for the 7:10 clash at Turner Field, and the 8 run total is priced a bit higher on the OVER.
Hamels came within an out of his seventh career shutout in the series opener, but managed to earn just his fifth win of the season with the complete game effort. He kept Braves hitters guessing all evening with nine strikeouts, and the loss was only the 17th at home this year for Atlanta.
Martin comes off his first MLB victory as he prepares for his third big league start. A solo homer by the Cubs' Nate Schierholtz was the only run the righthander out of Georgia allowed in five innings last Thursday. The rookie did walk three for the second consecutive start, however, and control was a bit of an issue for Martin as he climbed the minor league ranks.
Medlen has won his last three assignments, one of those a 6-4 victory over Martin in Philadelphia 11 days ago. The current string of dubyas was preceded by three straight losses, and Medlen really hasn't had a true shutdown type performance since early-June when he beat the Pirates and Dodgers in back-to-back starts.
Tuesday will be his fourth try against the Phillies in 2013, and the previous three outings have seen Medlen combine for 16.1 innings while surrendering 12 earned runs. The Braves are 6-5 in his 11 home starts, Medlen pitching to a 3.23 ERA.
The start of Monday's matchup was delayed nearly two hours because of rain, and more thunderstorms are possible in Atlanta this afternoon. The chance of rain decreases to around 30% this evening when it should be in the upper-70s with a light westerly breeze (out to right).
Check out our Tuesday Morning MLB Odds & Betting Lines Report.
Will Little, in his rookie season calling MLB games, is expected to have the dish for Game 2; the OVER has prevailed six of his previous plate assignments with home favorites 6-1.
Having seen him before, the Braves should be more than ready for Martin tonight. The high side of the total is my free sports pick for Tuesday.
My pick: Phillies-Braves Over 8 (-115)
Monday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Charlie Manuel and the Philadelphia Phillies know this season's a wash, but they remain a dangerous club that could play a spoiler's role for some other NL playoff hopeful. They'll certainly get their chance this week when they face two of the favorites to grab the National League pennant, beginning Monday with the Atlanta Braves.
Philadelphia closes out a 6-game road trip with three in Atlanta to start the week, sending Cole Hamels to the hill in Game 1 opposite Julio Teheran. Backing the Braves will cost bettors $1.70 in Game 1 with the MLB odds settling on 7 runs for a total after opening at the 6.5 mark.
The series is a quick rematch of the set we followed a week-&-a-half ago in Philadelphia, a broom job by the Braves who own a 6-3 advantage in the season meetings so far. The last two series get-togethers have been at Citizens Bank Park after the clubs opened the season against each other in Atlanta. Two of those three games went to the Braves and the OVER which is 4-2 the last six at Turner Field where the teams have split the last 30 tilts down the middle.
Phils Broomed In DC To Begin Road Trip
The Phillies don't have much opportunity to spoil anyone's season other than the Braves, who they face 10 more times starting with this series, plus three home games against the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend. No other team above .500 is on Philadelphia's slate the rest of the way.
Manuel's men haven't exactly shown any inclination to play the spoiler role by going 4-17 since the all-star break after being swept in Washington over the weekend. Pitching has been the biggest bugaboo as the Phillies rank last in the NL with a 4.31 ERA, the bullpen even more bothersome with an NL-worst 4.36 ERA while allowing hitters to rake at a .262 clip.
Philly hitters haven't done much to pick up the pitching staff, and injuries (age?) are to blame for some of the problems on offense. But the lineup probably took its biggest blow just before the All-Star Game when Ben Revere was lost with a busted foot. Revere was just starting to heat up at the time, and isn't expected back for another four weeks or so.
The Braves beat Hamels on Opening Day in Atlanta to begin his disastrous start to 2013 during which the Phils went 1-11 in the lefty's first 12 outings. He has been chipping away at his 4.86 ERA when May closed, but the end results haven't been much better with Philly going 5-7 in his subsequent dozen assignments, 0-4 most recently though Hamels has pitched well the last three times out (22 IP, 4 ER).
Also take a look at my coverage and free picks for the Angels & Yankees series.
Can Braves Start New Win Streak?
All win streaks have to begin with the first one, which Atlanta picked up Sunday afternoon vs. Miami. The Braves rallied from an early hole the day after seeing a 14-game string of dubyas come to an end, and enter the week with a 14.5-game lead in the NL East, 19.5 games ahead of these Phillies.
Teheran won two of the games in the previous streak, including last Tuesday's pitching duel vs. Gio Gonzalez in Washington. The Braves are 8-3 in his 11 home starts, and Teheran is facing the Phillies as a starter for the first time since his MLB debut in May 2011, a 3-0 losing effort on the road.
If there's an MVP in the nine previous games between the squads, it has to be Craig Kimbrel. And most of the time you give a closer an award, it really goes to the entire bullpen which is the case here. Kimbrel has saved four of Atlanta's wins with four scoreless innings, no walks and six K's. Braves relievers have been phenomenal, and at some point you have to expect manager Fredi Gonzalez will ease off the pedal a bit with such a big lead in the division.
Will it come in Game 1 of this set when a passing t-storm could be a factor? Probably not since Kimbrel has enjoyed four days off since earning his 36th save of the campaign. I've had some luck recently with run line plays, and that's the direction I'm going for my free sports pick Monday on the Braves.
My pick: Braves -1.5 (+135) at Bet365